What does it take to be a teacher?
Through a new career pathway program, Hazelwood School District is offering students the chance to learn what it takes to be an educator. Career Pathways for the Teaching Profession, or Exploring the Teaching Profession, is a junior and senior-level course approved by the HSD Board of Education for 2012-2013. It is offered within the career and technical education discipline.
The program is for students who have an interest in a career in education and enjoy working with people and sharing their skills and talents. Students will develop the knowledge and skills needed to communicate clearly, build relationships and motivate learners. Students will be exposed to a broad range of ages and theories related to education, and they will be required to observe in early childhood, elementary, middle and high school classes.
The program includes an internship for seniors who complete the prerequisite work. It will combine in-class coursework with onsite teaching practice. Onsite teaching projects include keeping daily logs or blogs, weekly journals, preparing and presenting a lesson, and working closely with students of an assigned teacher.
The rationale for Career Pathways for the Teaching Profession is simple. Teaching is projected to be one of the fastest-growing occupations over the next 10 years and beyond. The need for teachers in math, science, special education, foreign languages, technology applications and bilingual education is expected to increase.
The curriculum was developed by District teachers, led by Gail Stewart, learning facilitator for special areas.
Suzie Dudenhoeffer, who teaches in the practical arts department at Hazelwood East High School, will lead a section of the course.
“This course will offer high school students the chance to develop a more accurate view of the teaching profession, and it will allow students to develop skills that will be necessary to be successful in this career field,” said Dudenhoeffer.
Students will have “real, practical experience in four different levels of education – preschool, elementary, middle school and high school – allowing them to determine which age group best suits them, and it allows experiences that will help them be more focused and successful in college when preparing for a career,” she said.
Amie Shea, practical arts department at Hazelwood Central High School, is also teaching the class.
“In my opinion, this course is a significant benefit to our students. This course will give them very specific knowledge and experience about teaching that is not available to them any other way,” said Shea.
“Students who are interested in the field of education now have the opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective into the world of teaching before they even declare a major in college. That’s very exciting. And while we’ll be focusing on the profession of education, we will be fostering many transferrable skills. If a student isn’t interested in teaching after completing the course, he or she will have experience and training in motivating learners, developing professional relationships and honing their communication skills. These are skills that are pertinent to many occupations,” Shea continued.
She noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that by 2016, the educational workforce will need to increase by 16 percent.
Deborah Kniepkamp, practical arts, will teach the class at Hazelwood West High School.
“Students will learn that teaching is a viable option. They will gain skills and attitudes that will prepare them to be successful in a teaching career. They will be better prepared for the realities of the classroom management experience and the work involved in preparation for a typical teaching day,” said Kniepkamp.
“The purpose of the Career Pathways for the Teaching Profession is to realistically train students to assume leadership positions as teachers, hopefully in Missouri, and for the teachers to feel successful as a competent teacher, increasing the desire to remain in the profession,” she said.
Dudenhoeffer shared her thoughts on her hopes for the class.
“Of course, I hope that students will find a love of education and want to work with students. But mostly I hope they develop real job skills that will be transferrable for whatever they decide for their future. Skills like communication, teamwork, patience, responsibility and punctuality.”
Shea also shared her expectations.
“One, I hope the students learn that teaching is a profession with professional organizations, continual professional development, required state accreditation and levels of responsibility within a school system. Two, I want students to recognize that teaching is also a craft and to be a master at your trade; it takes talent, practice, patience and passion for your field.”
As for what she hopes to learn for herself, Dudenhoeffer said “After teaching for 21 years and doing countless hours of professional development, I hope to find ways to reconnect with some of the past strategies that I have used in a fresh way. I also hope to gain a fresh perspective on the educational system in general.”
“I hope to discover that we have some of the most excellent students in Hazelwood that will make fantastic teachers,” said Kniepkamp.
“We are passionate teachers,” said Shea. “This is an amazing opportunity to pass the torch to our future teachers.”